James Wiseman, the top high school recruit in the country last year, is enrolled at Memphis and plays for Penny Hardaway. Prior to signing, here’s the lead up:
And that’s what the NCAA is alleging happened when Hardaway gave Wiseman and his mother $11,500 for moving expenses when Wiseman relocated from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017.
The NCAA considers Hardaway a University of Memphis booster because he donated $1 million to the school in 2008. According to the NCAA, that makes Hardaway a booster in perpetuity.
Does the NCAA shut down Wiseman from playing when he gets there? After all, this looks pretty open and shut.
The answer is nah. It waited until the first game of the season was just around the corner. And from there, fun ensued.
First, prominent Memphis attorney Leslie Ballin conducted a news conference inside his 12th floor offices and announced that the NCAA had deemed Wiseman ineligible earlier this week and that he had filed a lawsuit on Wiseman’s behalf with the NCAA and the University of Memphis as defendants. A few minutes after that, a Shelby County Judicial Court judge granted Wiseman a temporary emergency restraining order that allowed Wiseman to play Friday.
About 10 minutes after that, at 5:17 p.m., Wiseman emerged from a black Sprinter van in the garage underneath FedExForum and ran inside the building. Just after 6 p.m., he was announced as a member of the starting lineup. By the second half, the NCAA responded.
“Likely ineligible”? Boy, that sounds open and shut.
This is the lesson learned from the North Carolina academic scandal. There are times when the best strategy is to simply brazen things out. The NCAA doesn’t handle brazen particularly well.
It’s a pretty strong indication of how screwed up things are when the NCAA’s own membership — itself, in other words — is the resistance.